Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice, who finished a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), breezed six furlongs in 1:13.60 over a fast track Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for a showdown with Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah in the 147th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 6.
Keen Ice was the only horse on track during the special 8:30-8:45 a.m. ET training period for Churchill Downs-based Belmont Stakes contenders. Tammy Fox was aboard and guided the son of Curlin through 1/8-mile fractions of :12.40, :24.40, :36.20, :48.60 and 1:00.60 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.80.
“He’s doing well,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s picking it up every pole and had a lot of energy galloping out. He has just been so good even before the Derby and he just keeps on improving. I think the further the better. A mile-and-a-half shouldn’t be a problem. I really like my chances.
“American Pharoah is definitely head and shoulders above the rest of them in class, but I know we do want to go a mile-and-a-half. I know he’s feeling good; he’s sitting on all cylinders. It’s just a matter of if he’s good enough to beat him.”
Fox also spoke highly of Keen Ice, giving Romans two thumbs up as he came off the track.
“When I give two thumbs up that means that they’re really ready to go,” Fox said. “He is as ready as he can be. Dale’s done a great job with him.”
AMERICAN PHAROAH WALKS SHED ROW; ALL ‘VERY GOOD’ AFTER TUESDAY BREEZE – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah got a day of rest and relaxation after breezing a half-mile in :48 on Tuesday. The homebred son of Pioneerof the Nile did not go to the main track for exercise Wednesday. Instead, he walked around the shed row in Barn 33 where trainer Bob Baffert keeps his string of horses at Churchill Downs.
“Everything looked very good this morning,” said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s chief assistant.
Barnes also said American Pharoah would return to the track Thursday at 8:30 a.m. for a clockwise jog around the one-mile oval.
In other Belmont Stakes news, Conquest Stables’ Conquest Curlinate jogged and galloped one mile around the main track Wednesday. Norman Casse, assistant to father Mark, said that the son of Curlin would likely breeze Friday or Saturday morning depending on the weather.
American Pharoah (Barn 33), Conquest Curlinate (Barn 36) and Keen Ice (Barn 4) are the locally-based Belmont Stakes contenders stabled at Churchill Downs.
BELMONT STAKES POSSIBLE FIELD – The possible 10-horse Belmont Stakes lineup (with jockey and trainer): Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah (Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert); Blue Grass champ and Kentucky Derby 10thCarpe Diem (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Peter Pan runner-up Conquest Curlinate (Shaun Bridgmohan, Mark Casse); Blue Grass fourth and Kentucky Derby 11thFrammento (Mike Smith, Nick Zito); Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby 4thFrosted (Joel Rosario, Kiaran McLaughlin); Louisiana Derby 4th and Kentucky Derby 7thKeen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans); Peter Pan winner Madefromlucky (undecided, Todd Pletcher); Florida Derby champ and Kentucky Derby 6thMateriality (undecided, Todd Pletcher); UAE Derby winner and Kentucky Derby 8thMubtaahij-IRE (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike de Kock); and Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve (Gary Stevens, Dallas Stewart).
FANS INVITED TO WATCH SPECIAL 8:30-8:45 A.M. TRAINING FOR BELMONT CONTENDERS – With Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah and three other Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack is offering a special 8:30-8:45 a.m. training period for those horses through Tuesday. Additionally, area horse racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility, including the new Courtyard area, free of charge.
Churchill Downs Racetrack will open its Gate 17 entrance between 8-9 a.m. each morning through Tuesday so the public can watch Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah along with rivals Conquest Curlinate and Keen Ice prepare for the 1 ½-mile third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 6.
Churchill Downs’ concessionaire Levy Restaurants will have coffee, juice, soda, water and doughnuts available for purchase near the Aristides Garden. Also, video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens.
Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/workouts/live from 8:30-8:45 a.m. through Tuesday. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel. A graphic with each horse’s name will appear on the screen with the corresponding horse, although a majority of the focus will be on American Pharaoh.
SPECIAL BELMONT STAKES DAY BOX SEAT PACKAGE – Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt that features a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.
LOUISVILLE REGIONAL BASEBALL FANS CAN RECEIVE FREE ADMISSION TO CHURCHILL DOWNS – Guests attending this weekend’s Louisville Regional for the 2015 NCAA Baseball Tournament at neighboring Jim Patterson Stadium will receive free general admission to Churchill Downs Racetrack by showing their game ticket or ticket stub. The University of Louisville, the No. 3 national seed, hosts Morehead State on Friday at 6 p.m. ET, a little more than an hour after Friday’s ninth and final race that’s scheduled for 4:48 p.m. ET. Bradley and Michigan play earlier at 2 p.m. More games are scheduled Saturday and Sunday.
DOWN THE STRETCH – After a pair of dark days on Tuesday and Wednesday, racing at Churchill Downs resumes Thursday with an eight-race twilight program that begins at 5 p.m. (all times Eastern). On-track guests can take advantage of discounted $1 beer from 5-7 p.m., food trucks, live music and a special Handicapping 101 tent for newcomers in the Plaza area. Gates open at 4 p.m. Thursday and the finale is set for 8:39 p.m. … Post positions will be drawn Wednesday afternoon for Saturday’s pair of featured stakes events: the 27th running of the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs and the 10th running of the $65,000-added Opening Verse overnight stakes for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The latter is a traditional local prep for the $200,000 Firecracker (GII) at one mile on grass and the headliner of a stakes quartet on June 27’s closing night “Downs After Dark” program. … The weekly “Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest” continues Sunday in Churchill Downs’ ITW area on the second floor of the Clubhouse. Bettors can enter for $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members) and are required to make mythical $2 Win/Place bets on Races 3-8. The highest bankroll will win a $1,000 cash voucher or free entry to the Churchill Downs Challenge on June 13. Second place is a $500 voucher and third is a $250 voucher. Registration takes place Sunday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the top of the Gate 17 escalators.